On the 23rd April 1949, Bromley won the FA Amateur Cup in front of over 93,000 fans at Wembley Stadium.
The Route to the Final
The road to the final saw Bromley win five matches to set up the Wembley tie with Romford FC. In the first round Bromley beat current National League side Maidenhead United 3-0. A second round clash with an old friend of ours in Wimbledon would follow.
Bromley made light work of our South West London counterparts, advancing to the third round thanks to a 6-1 win. Barking were next up and Bromley were once again in goalscoring form, dispatching five past the Essex side in a 5-1 victory.
The fourth round pitted Bromley against a Club named Pegasus AFC. Pegasus was formed in 1948, and were made up of Oxford and Cambridge University students. Pegasus would go on to have plenty of success in the FA Amateur Cup winning the competition in 1951 and 1953. However, in the 1949 competition Bromley proved too much on the day winning the tie 4-3. The tie saw a crowd of over 12,000 flood to the match, a number Oxford had never encountered before for a sporting event. Bromley would have to get used to playing in front of large crowds quickly, as Highbury would be the next venue in their Amateur Cup journey.
The semi-final’s beckoned for Bromley and a trip to Highbury Stadium was in store. Arsenal’s home ground was the base for the first semi-final. Yes, that’s right, “first”. A 0-0 draw with Leytonstone in front of 45,000 spectators meant a replay was needed to decide who would join Romford in the cup final.
A week passed before Stamford Bridge opened its turnstiles for round two of the semi-final. Bromley led at half-time thanks to George Brown’s 80th goal of the season. The centre-forward had earlier in the season targeted 100 goals for the campaign, a feat he would complete in the final match of the season against Faversham. Reg Dunmall scored a second for Bromley to seal the Lillywhites’ place in the Wembley final.
History in the FA Amateur Cup Final
With the final approaching Bromley could already look back at a rich vein of success in the competition. The first win of the title came in the 1910-11 season. Bishop Auckland fell to a slender 1-0 defeat at the hands of Bromley.
The Club had to wait until the 1937-38 season before we could get our hands on the Amateur Cup once more. Erith & Belvedere were the opponents in that season’s final and would lose 1-0 to Bromley. We can see a slight trend emerging here.
Bromley would go into the 1949 final with a 100% success rate in FA Amateur Cup final’s, with a win in this final being historic for a number of reasons.
23rd April 1949 – The Final
23rd April 1949, the Final of the Football Association Amateur Challenge Cup would be held at Wembley Stadium for the first time. The final was contested between Romford and Bromley in front of well over 93,000 spectators. The final would also be another first – the first ever televised amateur football match. Bromley would not only win the first FA Amateur Cup final at Wembley, they would win the first ever Amateur football match shown live on TV. A truly historic win in our Club’s history.
Thanks to the team’s incredible form during the season, Bromley were firm favourites going into the final with Romford. British Rail had laid on special services direct from Bromley South to Wembley for those who were lucky enough to get tickets. Many would be crowding round a television set or radio back in Bromley in eager anticipation of the most talked about Amateur football match to date. The whole town stood still on the day, with any trade in the shopping centre concentrated to the morning. The afternoon would be all about the football.
Bromley North and Bromley South train stations were heaving with supporters making their way to Wembley. 3pm soon came around the cup final would not be without drama.
The historic victory would be decided by a single goal. Bromley scored that only goal of the match in the early stages of the first-half. Surviving descriptions from the day paint an image of Tommy Hopper’s goal;
- “Fright, Ruddy and Dunmall began a move on the leftwing which gave Brown, the Bromley centre forward, his opportunity. He passed cleverly to Hopper, who struck a well judged shot into the far corner of the net, which gave Ivey no chance of saving.”
- “It was a perfect shot as anybody could wish to see and was the result of 100 per cent team co-operation.”
The slender lead would be defended for the remainder of the match, and in most part with only nine fit players. Near the end of the first-half, captain Eric Fright picked up an injury that reduced his playing ability. He hobbled through the rest of the match, acting as a motivator on the pitch – as any great captain would have done. As well as Fright, Reg. Dunmall would become a passenger in the final. He twisted his ankle in the second-half and, during a time when no substitutes were allowed, he would carry on playing right until the final whistle.
Once Fright had lifted the trophy and paraded the Wembley pitch with his teammates hoisting him aloft, the real celebrations could begin – back in Bromley.
The race to reach the best vantage point to see the trophy had begun. Those watching or listening to the match at home lined the streets of Bromley eagerly awaiting the arrival of the open-top bus.
The team bus from Wembley would pull over in London Road, where the players would then jump onto the parade bus. The journey from London Road down to Bromley South is said to have been cheered along by over 20,000 people lining the streets.
Wembley had been a challenge overcome, and the FA Amateur Cup was the jewel amongst the crown that was the 1948-49 season for Bromley.
A Season of Success
Bromley’s 1948-49 season was littered with success. As previously mentioned, centre-forward George Brown would score 100 goals in a single season as well as picking up his second FA Amateur Cup winners medal having played for Bromley in the 1938 win.
The trophy cabinet would be bulging during the summer of 1949 at Hayes Lane. The FA Amateur Cup stood amongst the Athenian League title and The Kent Amateur Cup. Bromley had also picked up two reserve titles during the 1948-49 season with those being the Athenian League Reserve Championship and the Athenian League Reserves Challenge Cup.
A Historic Victory
On this day, 23rd April 1949, Bromley won the first ever FA Amateur Cup final held at Wembley Stadium. The only goal of the game was scored by Tommy Hopper, a goal that earned Bromley’s third and final success in the competition. Words cannot do justice to the magnitude of the event. For Bromley as a community, but also in the context of it being a nationwide spectacle. This is thanks to it being the first ever amateur football game shown live on television. Luckily we have plenty of photos from the day and we are even luckier to have video footage too. Thanks to those, and the stories we have from the day, we can relive that historic win for our Football Club. Even more important is to pay tribute to that team. A group of players that brought about one of the most successful seasons in our history.
Researched & written by James Tanner